USMagazine, Monday, January 16, 2012, 11:50am (PST)
On what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 83rd birthday, first-time Golden Globe winner Octavia Spencer paid tribute to the late civil rights leader in her Sunday acceptance speech.
Earning the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for her role as maid Minnie Jackson in The Help, the mega-smash 1960s-set film that exposed race relations in Montgomery, Ala., Spencer was quick to thank Dr. King.
"With regard to domestics in this country, now and then, I think Dr. King said it best: 'All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.' And I thank you for recognizing that with our film," an emotional Spencer, 39, said.
Though the characters in the film are fictional, "they represent scores of real people. [The Help's] narrative itself is part of our fabric," she told reporters backstage. "It's important to keep the younger generation abreast of how far we've come, because this is really foreign to them."
Personifying the tough-talking maid depicted in Kathryn Stockett's bestselling 2009 novel, Spencer was applauded by domestic workers nationwide for her positive portrayal.
"Domestic workers around the country watched with pride tonight. After generations of exclusion and invisibility, we are so grateful to Octavia for helping bring recognition and light to this workforce," Ai-jen Poo, the co-founder and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance told Us Weekly in a statement Monday. "And we're thankful for all of the performances in The Help that gave life and dignity to domestic workers stories."